Police: Young N.Y. graffiti artist killed by train

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NEW YORK (AP) – Ari Kraft was a bright 13-year-old who had celebrated his bar mitzvah in Israel, and was building a reputation as a graffiti artist in his Queens neighborhood.

Friends say his passion cost him his life; He was hit by a Long Island Rail Road train Friday afternoon after painting near the tracks.

On Saturday, the city’s medical examiner released the teenager’s body to his family. The cause of death was “blunt impact injuries to the head, torso and extremities,” said Ellen Borakove, the medical examiner’s spokeswoman. The teenager’s remains were taken to the Sinai Chapels funeral home in Queens.

While the LIRR train bound for Huntington left Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station at evening rush hour Friday, Ari and three pals were painting on the elevated tracks near the LIRR’s Forest Hills station, friends said.

As he crossed the tracks to head home to nearby Rego Park, where his mother was preparing a Jewish Sabbath dinner, the train, carrying about 1,000 people, slammed into him. Service on the LIRR was suspended for hours in both directions between Queens and Pennsylvania Station.

Ari’s mother, Yaffa Simantov, is a divorced Israeli immigrant. He was her only son. After the accident, she rushed to the scene, sobbing in shock. She later fainted at the 112th Precinct police station.

“She was very protective. He had a cell phone so she could keep in touch,” Doris Aparicio, who lives downstairs from Simantov, told the Daily News. “She would wait outside for him to come home. He was basically a good kid. He was a little wild. … Hey, he was 13.”

Police there received the first report of the accident at about 5:40 p.m., from a friend of Ari’s, said Detective Kevin Czartoryski, a police spokesman.

“His best friend Benny was in the ambulance, they were trying to calm him down. He was scared and shaking,” another friend, Leo Redko, told the New York Post. “He said he was graffitiing and he turned around and the kid was gone.”

In Rego Park, news of his death spread quickly among friends and bystanders.

Diana Samudio, 14, said she rushed to the scene after hearing “an explosion.”

“He was a good kid,” said Diana, also a graffiti artist. “He did some really nice pieces. He was very talented. He died doing what he liked.”

Ari often created large murals with inscriptions like “Remember 9/11” – under the tag name “Corporal.”

A memorial to the budding graffiti artist appears on the Web site Myspace.com – a photo of a boy in a knit hat and T-shirt, smiling at the camera through his braces.

AP-ES-01-06-07 2012EST

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